Cluster 3
Introduction to Engineering Mechanics

Subject to revisions until January 1 2017



How do planes fly? What will the cars of the future look like? This cluster will explore the fundamentals of engineering mechanics and see how they are applied, from bicycles to rockets.

Core Courses (2 Weeks)

What Makes Airplanes Fly?

This section will cover airplane configuration and properties of air as well as characteristics of wing selection, lift generation and dependence on angle of attack. Three dimensional effects in terms of Aspect Ratios, compressibility effects in terms of Mach numbers, viscous effects in terms of Reynolds numbers, and stability of airplanes will also be discussed. In addition to discussions and computer assignments, planned activities include smoke and water tunnel experiments to demonstrate tip vortex, flying airplane models, and visiting the United Airlines Engine Center in San Francisco and McClellan Air Force Museum in Sacramento.

Satellites & Rocket Science

This section will introduce students to Orbital Mechanics and the two-body problem. Trajectories of satellites in terms of conic sections, thrust generation, and derivation of the Rocket Equation as well as Launch Vehicle Dynamics will be covered. This course will also discuss flow through convergent-divergent nozzles, transfer of internal energy to kinetic energy, and both solid and liquid propellant rocket engines. Planned activities include experiments using a water table to demonstrate wave patterns analogous to shock waves in supersonic flows, flying model rockets, and planned outings to Space Camp at NASA AMES Research Center in Moffett Field.

Supplementary Courses (1 Week Each)

Sensors, Actuators, & Smart Machinery

As a result of the computing revolution, we are surrounded by microprocessors: in cars, aircraft, hospitals – even in our washing machines. For these microprocessors to perform a useful task in a real-world application, they must be connected to sensors that allow them to collect information, and actuators that allow them to act on their surroundings. Sensors perform the vital task of taking physical information and converting it into an electrical signal that can be recorded or processed. Actuators convert electrical signals into physical actions, such as opening a valve or rotating a control rudder. Sensors and computer control systems help to keep our houses temperature controlled and make sure that the airbag deploys at precisely the right moment (and not when we drive over a pothole).

This course will cover the technology used to make sensors and actuators. Students will learn how these devices work and how they are constructed. Students will experiment with sensors for basic parameters such as temperature, pressure, acceleration, and position. Fundamental concepts such as sensitivity, resolution, and accuracy will be introduced. Finally, the methods used to design computer controlled machinery will be described.

Future Cars

This section will cover car components (body, engine and fluids), including basic statics, strength of materials, car dynamics, vibrations, stability, and control. A study of the various types of vehicles will also be conducted including vehicles powered by internal combustion, fuel cells, hydrogen, electrical, and hybrid engines. Activities include racing remote control cars and visiting the California Fuel Cell Partnership in Sacramento.


Modified 2014-01-16